W.Va. Company Sued For Polluting Environment and Causing Damage

On Monday, Jackson Resources Company, a West Virginia based natural resources company, was sued for allegedly causing “the release of toxic, noxious, harmful and hazardous contaminants into the environment.” The contaminants have allegedly become present and threaten to become present at, on and under the plaintiff, Rita Lovejoy’s personal property.

Lovejoy filed this suit in the Southern District of West Virginia.  Jackson Resources owns and operates a natural gas well and pipeline transportation facility, which resides on Lovejoy’s property located along the Upper Mud River and Palermo River in Lincoln County, W.Va.  Specifically, Lovejoy is seeking to recover costs and have the court enforce change upon Jackson Resources for the alleged pollution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). 

In order to assert contamination claims, Lovejoy had an environmental study of her land done in October of 2018. This limited environmental investigation revealed the presence of certain contaminants of concern, at elevated levels, in both the environmental media, at and under the Lovejoy property. A sampling of well water returned evidence that organic contaminant Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate was present. This was also found in the soil immediately adjacent to Jackson Resources’ surface operations.  Additional organic contaminants found on Lovejoy’s soil adjacent to Jackson’s operations were “Benzo(a)anthracene, Benzo(b)fluoranthene, Benzo(k)fluoranthene, Chrysene, Fluoranthene, Phenanthrene, and Pyrene.” Each contaminant is identified as “solid waste” within the meaning of 40 C.F.R. § 261.2. The plaintiff asserted that these solid waste contaminants are being released into the environment due to the operations at the Jackson Resources facility. The above substances have also been recognized as “hazardous wastes” in the RCRA and met the requirements set under CERCLA. 

Lovejoy argued several claims against Jackson Resources. The first few claims were violations and claims for relief under RCRA and CERCLA for the alleged pollution of the environment and the negative health and value affects Jackson may have caused to Lovejoy and her land. Additionally, Lovejoy claimed a public nuisance exists, because the contaminants from the Jackson facility have entered the groundwater, thus threatening all local surface waters, such as the Upper Mud River and the Kanawha River. The harm suffered by Lovejoy is different from the type of harm suffered by the general public because the complaint asserted the released contaminants are currently present in groundwater in the immediate vicinity of Lovejoy’s property, which is currently restricting her right to use it. Furthermore, Lovejoy argued a private nuisance, because her right to reasonably and comfortably enjoy her property without interference has been affected by Jackson. Lovejoy also put forth negligence and strict liability arguments against the defendant.

The plaintiff is seeking awarded damages for damage to real property under federal and state laws due to the pollution damage, and awarded damages for the interference of her rights caused by the alleged nuisance claims, as well as attorneys fees.

Lovejoy is being represented by Neely & Callaghan.